Control Warlock Deck List Guide – Witchwood – May 2018

Our Control Warlock guide for the The Witchwood expansion features the best deck list for this archetype. This Warlock guide includes Mulligans, Gameplay Strategy, Card Substitutions, and Combos/Synergies!

Introduction to Control Warlock

Demon Control Warlock is a deck first created in Kobolds & Catacombs, which shares a lot of similarities with Cube Warlock (and Cube Warlock is a deck I don’t really have to introduce to anyone, since it’s the most popular deck on the ladder right now). Both decks rely on cheating out bigger minions early (mostly thanks to the Possessed Lackey), as well as the massive late game tempo swing with Bloodreaver Gul'dan. However, unlike Cube Warlock, which tends to be more proactive, Control builds take the reactive route.

Between running more removal spells (e.g. Siphon Soul or Twisting Nether), not including Doomguard, which means that Lackey always pulls out a Voidlord (massive defensive option) and adding extra win conditions/value generators such as GnomeferatuStonehill Defender or Rin, the First Disciple, despite all of the similarities, Control Warlock is a different archetype with a significantly different game plan.

Neither of those decks was hurt by the rotation, and both remain high in the tier lists (Tier 1 or Tier 2, depending on the exact build and Rank).

Check out our List of the Best Standard Decks for Hearthstone Ladder

Deck List

Deck Import

Control Warlock Mulligan Strategy & Guide

Vs Everything

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Kobold Librarian – This card is a Life Tap at half the cost that also gives you a 2/1 body, which is pretty high value. One of the most important aspects of this card is that it activates Lesser Amethyst Spellstone, but it also gives Controlling Warlock decks a 1-health minion to activate Defile.
  • Possessed Lackey – Voidlord is the star of this deck, but he wouldn’t be without his favorite lackey. Since Voidlord is the only Demon in the deck, Possessed Lackey will search him out every time. A turn 5 or 6 Voidlord is probably enough to win you the game against most aggro decks right there, and accelerates your Bloodreaver Gul'dan plan against midrange.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Lesser Amethyst Spellstone – Keep with Kobold Librarian. After just one upgrade, it’s a great card, but it’s pretty weak at the base.

VS Fast Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Mortal Coil – This card lets you remove a small minion and draw a card, which is pretty valuable early game. It’s also a versatile way to make your Defiles more effective.
  • Defile – One of the best board clear tools in the game, its low cost makes it an extremely safe keep against aggro decks.
  • Doomsayer – Great card versus Aggro. When dropped on Turn 2, it usually clears whatever they have already + prevents them from developing. Amazing stall move against Aggro.
  • Plated Beetle – You prefer proactive plays than tapping in the early game, and Beetle is a solid 2-drop. 2/3 body can get some nice trades against 1-drops and/or 2-drops.
  • Stonehill Defender – As far as the early game Taunts go, Stonehill Defender is actually pretty weak. However, since most of the Aggro decks run some 1 health minions, the 1 Attack is often not a problem + it can set up a better Defile + you can pull a bigger Taunt for the mid/late game.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Hellfire – Hellfire is a good keep in the board flood matchups. Given how many board refills they have, you want all of the AoEs you can get. For example, it’s great against Paladin as a counter to their on-curve Call to Arms. Also upgrades your Spellstone.

VS Slow Decks

Higher Priority (Keep every time)

  • Stonehill Defender – Having T3 play is nice, since Turn 3 is pretty weird – tapping means that you’re left with one mana, and you can’t Tap if you go second, because it often means you would overdraw. Stonehill can grap something useful, even including Rin if you don’t have her already.
  • Rin, the First Disciple – When talking about slow matchups, Rin is one of the most important cards in your deck. You will not be able to play her until Turn 6, probably even Turn 7 or later, but since you can Tap a lot in the slow matchups, having a dead card is not a problem. Then again, Rin being on the bottom of your deck is one of the easiest way to lose a matchup like that, so you want her as soon as you can.

Lower Priority (Keep only if certain conditions are met)

  • Doomsayer – Not all slow decks are minion-less. Some of them run early game minions too – such as small stuff in the mirror matchups. In those, Doomsayer is a good keep, since you can often clear some small minions, or against Cube, if you drop it before their Turn 4, you can stall Giant for one turn.

Control Warlock Win Rates

Winrates provided by Metastats

Control Warlock Play Strategy

This deck aims to do one of three different things, depending on the matchup: set up an unbreakable Taunt wall, destroy the opponent’s deck, or outlast the opponent.

Vs Aggro

Your main goal of playing vs Aggro is simple – you need to survive. Generally, if you get into the late game while still at a reasonable health total (or with a wall of Taunts against decks without burn), it’s a victory for you, as you will slowly outvalue your opponent and he won’t stand a chance while in top deck mode.

But surviving doesn’t come easily when your opponent is pumping more and more minions onto the board. The most important part of your game plan are AoE board clears. Your deck runs plenty of them. Starting with an amazing early game / stall card Doomsayer – you usually want to drop him right on the curve. Your opponent will most likely have a 1-drop, maybe even 2-drop, but most likely not enough force to punch through the Doomsayer. If that’s the case, Doomsayer will not only clear their early board, but also stall the game for one more turn – they can’t develop anything when Doomsayer is going to blow up, so you start with an empty board and basically a free turn to your credit. 

Another amazing card is Defile – it’s often more of a math puzzle than a classic card game board clear, as you need to be absolutely sure that there are no gaps in minions’ health – if there is no 3 health minion on the board, then anything 4 and above won’t get cleared. Given that Aggro decks play a plethora of different early game minions, against big board, Defile is usually a full clear. And if it’s not, you can always set it up. Your opponent played around it by not putting a 1, 2 or 3 health minion on the board? You can do it yourself thanks to the Kobold Librarian, Possessed Lackey or Plated Beetle. You can also Mortal Coil something first to bring everything into the Defile range. Defile is also a very high tempo clear – since you’re only using 2 mana to do everything, so the best time to use it would be having another play in your hand. For example, if you can Defile the board and then play Doomsayer, you can not only clear everything, but also stall for one more turn to safely drop your Lackey. You can also play Defile and then drop a Stonehill DefenderPlated Beetle or another small minion to get some immediate board presence.

Lord Godfrey is like a bigger version of the Defile. It would probably be the best board clear against Aggro, if not for the fact that it costs 7 mana, so often comes in too late. However, since a lot of the Aggro decks have a longer game plan right now, you will still be able to get it to work quite often. It’s way, way easier to set up than Defile – you need to hit a 1 OR 2 health minion, then a 3 OR 4 health minion etc. So even against a board with a 1 and 4 health minions, which normally would be way out of the Defile range, Godfrey can do the trick.

Hellfire and Twisting Nether are more generic AoEs. Hellfire just deals 3 damage to everything, which is often enough to clear the board vs Aggro. So you do that if you can. Twisting Nether isn’t really there for those matchups, as most of the time it simply comes too late, but if you play against an Even Paladin, who refills the board for 5th time, it might still do some work.

Another important part of the matches vs Aggro is getting the Voidlords out. Those are your best cards vs Aggro, because unless Silenced, they will often put them in an unwinnable position. The best way to get them is through Possessed Lackey – either drop it on Turn 5, or play it a bit later and activate it immediately. Those ways include Dark Pact on Turn 6 and Defile on Turn 7. Try to not put all your eggs into one basket – don’t drop Lackey against a big board and hope that you will be able to pop it next turn. Silence can completely destroy you. Try to clear the board first and drop Lackey only if you’re sure that you’re safe (or you can no longer clear the board) or when it’s your only option.

After that, all you need to do is survive until Turn 10 and Bloodreaver Gul'dan. This swing is usually too much for an Aggro deck to handle, and they just give up (or drag the game for a few more turns before you in turn kill them). 

Healing is also important – this deck runs quite a lot of it. Between 2x Dark Pact, 2x Plated Beetle, 2x Lesser Amethyst Spellstone (let’s assume that they’re upgraded once) and Siphon Soul, that’s 35 life gain in total. Then if we add Bloodreaver Gul'dan to the mix with 5 immediate life gain + 3 more per turn, the numbers are getting pretty crazy. But that’s for a good reason, as surviving is very important, and the deck has quite a lot of self-damage through Hero Power, Librarians and Hellfires (15+ self damage during the whole game isn’t anything unusual). Don’t be afraid to heal up when you think that you will die, even if it’s not optimal. Dropping Beetle + Dark Pact in the mid game when you’re low already can be a winning play, as you get 11 healing for just 3 mana and you can survive for a turn or two longer, in order to get to your Lackeys/Voidlords/finishers in time. It might seem completely counter-intuitive, but sometimes even Siphon Souling your own minion to get +3 health is worth it – do it if your opponent put you into the lethal range (e.g. you play against a deck running Leeroy Jenkins and you’re at 6).

Vs Control

Your game plan vs Control decks is quite different. Surviving is often not enough, because you also need to kill your opponent, or at least outlast him. Remember that as much as the 3/9 Taunts are usually enough to win against Aggro, they often aren’t as strong in slow matchups. 3 damage per turn isn’t really threatening, while slow decks have multiple ways to answer them anyway.

First of all, mulligan is very important. You can, and should be, much more greedy. Instead of looking for all the board clears, look aggressively for your cycle (Librarians) and Possessed Lackey. You want to get those Voidlords out as soon as possible in order to get a smooth ride through the mid game and thin your deck.

Games vs Control are way longer, and less straightforward. Depending on your hand, situation and the matchup, you can either try to rush them (happens rarely), outvalue them or get them to the fatigue. Rushing strategy works if you get some early minion damage, then a quick Voidlord to protect them, then, again, an on-curve Gul’dan. I suppose that strategy that revolves around 10 mana card is not really “rushing down”, but my point is that after reviving a solid board with Gul’dan, if your opponent has no big AoE to answer, you might be able to put them on 2-3 turns clock. If you’re doing that, do not trade. Your Voidlords should be big enough wall, and clear minions only if you need to (e.g. if they drop a Doomsayer, don’t just stare at it, but save your board). However, mind you that it is rarely your game plan. Your opponent needs to have a really bad draws, and you need to get a big N’Zoth or Gul’dan on the curve.

A slightly more common way to win is through outvaluing your opponent. For this, you need to utilize your big board clears – Twisting Nethers. Your opponent will want to kill you as quickly as possible, because once you get Gul’dan out, the game will be much harder, not to mention that Rin often puts him on the clock. Given that, he will often drop multiple minions onto the board at once, which you can punish by a well-timed Nether. Getting 2 or 3 for 1 with Nether is not uncommon. Given that a lot of the slow decks don’t really run card draw, it’s actually not that uncommon for them to run out of steam after constantly trying to rush you down. If you face a deck that cycles more through the deck, you can also try to remove all of their threats and then win the fatigue war – if you’re on a similar fatigue level (you’re not deeper into your deck), your Hero Power is often going to give you a huge edge over your opponent. After all, that’s a 6 health swing – you deal 3 and gain 3. Compared to a Priest, which will gain 2 life per turn, or Mage, who will deal 1 damage per turn, your Hero Power is quite impressive.

However, the most common way to win in the slow matchups is probably by destroying their deck, thanks to Rin, the First Disciple. Having Rin means that unless she’s one of the last cards in the deck, you can still, most likely, destroy the rest of your opponent’s deck and make him fatigue first. But Rin is not that easy to use. First of all – she’s vulnerable to things like Silence or Mind Control. You don’t want that to happen, so in slow matchups, it’s best to combo her with e.g. Dark Pact, or play her INTO your opponent’s Doomsayer. Yes, you don’t get a 3/6 body that way, but you guarantee that the seals will get into your hand. Sometimes it’s possible to get another copy with Stonehill Defender, so if you have two in your hand, you can easily drop one on Turn 6 – if it gets Silenced/Transformed, that’s okay, you have another one. But your opponent might have no answer, which not only gives you a free pass on the Rin, but also a huge tell about his hand.

So, after you already have Seals in your hand, you need to balance carefully between playing them and doing other stuff. Your opponent will play much more aggressively to force you into board clears instead of playing seals, and that’s what you do. Don’t be greedy – if you stare at a huge board, just Nether it instead of playing 2x Seal. The best routine is usually one seal + some other card like Defile, Spellstone, or Hero Power after you’re Gul’dan already. After you get to 5/5, the minions you summon from seals will no longer be a big tempo loss, which is great. However, the main prize comes at the end – Azari is a 10 mana 10/10 that destroys your opponent’s entire deck. With this, your opponent will only be able to work with what they have in their hand, which is obviously great for you – you win most of the games after you drop Azari.

One important extra note about Rin & her seals is that you want to keep your hand quite empty. Seals replace themselves – so if you have 10 cards in your hand (very common), you can’t just play 2x seal and pass, because you will burn your next card. I mean, you CAN do that and you sometimes will have to, but it’s better to not risk burning a Gul’dan or something by trying to empty your hand before.

Control Warlock Card Substitutions

The deck runs quite a lot of expensive cards and, sadly, most of them simply can’t be replaced.

Let’s start with the Epics:

  • Doomsayer is very hard to replace, there is no other card that does the same thing. You can try some tech cards like Acidic Swamp OozeGnomeferatu, Curse of Weakness (although it’s much better WHEN you have a Doomsayer too) ,Ironbeak Owl or a second Voodoo Doll. Alternatively, you can use 2x Mountain Giant, which makes the deck better in slow matchups, but worse against Aggro.
  • Voodoo Doll – A cool, higher tempo single target removal, but it’s not necessary. You can replace it with a second copy of Siphon Soul.
  • Twisting Nether – Can’t really be replaced, it’s your main late game board clear. You will lose most of the slow matchups without it. You could replace one if you have Lord Godfrey, use one of the cards above.
  • Voidlord – Absolutely can’t be replaced, it’s the #1 reason why you run the deck in the first place.

And now onto the Legendaries:

  • Rin, the First Disciple is basically your main edge over the Cube Warlock version and your best game plan in lots of slow matchups. While you COULD replace her, and your deck would still be good against Aggro, you don’t really want that.
  • Lord Godfrey – Good board clear, even better in Control build than in Cube build, as it’s more reactive. However, it’s not necessary – use any of the replacements listed above.
  • Bloodreaver Gul'dan also can’t be replaced. It’s the main reason why this deck’s late game is so powerful. Reviving huge Taunts and upgrading your Hero Power is a massive swing.

Stonekeep

A Hearthstone player and writer from Poland, Stonekeep has been in a love-hate relationship with Hearthstone since Closed Beta. Over four years of playing and three years of writing about the game, he has achieved infinite Arena and multiple top 100 Legend climbs.

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40 Comments

Discuss This Deck
  1. Xionologos
    May 13, 2018 at 5:22 am

    How Gnomferatu instead of plated beetle? The card burn is pretty good especially in the meta right now, the only reason i can think of for not putting Gnomferatu is because somtetimes it can act as a “deck thinning” card for the opponent. What is your opininion?

    Reply
  2. MrMeme
    May 8, 2018 at 12:29 am

    Have you considered running ooze for when going against Cubelocks, Paladins, Warriors or Tempo mages. Maybe even Un’goro ooze

    Reply
  3. Tony
    May 5, 2018 at 12:06 pm

    Can u put mountain giant in this deck?

    Reply
  4. Fistouille
    March 15, 2018 at 3:22 am

    – 1 mortal coil + 1 spellbreaker
    – 1 twisting + 1 ooze

    Reply
  5. GOw ther
    March 12, 2018 at 9:01 am

    guys i dont have much dust and i want this deck so i will dust many legendaries but is it really worth it ?

    Reply
    • Random Dude
      March 13, 2018 at 8:15 pm

      I mean it is a really strong deck that probably won’t fall out of the meta for quite a bit…

      Reply
  6. Chris P Bacon52
    February 24, 2018 at 8:56 pm

    What packs should I be getting if i’m going for cards in this deck?

    Reply
    • Macaroon
      March 8, 2018 at 11:45 am

      Knights of the frozen throne and kobolds and catacombs make up most of the cards in the deck and you could disenchant for things like stonehill defender, the classic cards and n’zoth (which is rotating out soon so unless you have it or play wild it could be better to wait)

      Reply
    • Random Dude
      March 13, 2018 at 8:17 pm

      KFT and K&C… However, it honestly doesn’t matter because most of these cards will come from dust. Buy whatever pack you want. Mean Streets has a high legendary drop rate btw.

      Reply
  7. Ophelia
    February 22, 2018 at 9:03 am

    This deck is amazing, but so frustrating against priest (especially the spitefull one).

    Reply
  8. FNA7
    February 18, 2018 at 3:06 pm

    This needs an update BAD. A warning to anyone reading, this deck is tier 4 if you copy it exactly as it is.

    Reply
    • KillerKite
      February 21, 2018 at 11:10 am

      What would you recommend?

      Reply
      • FNA7
        February 21, 2018 at 1:27 pm

        It got the update and it looks pretty standard now. I’m not in love with skulking geist (Jade Druid is dead), and it should be teched for your local meta before you take it to the ladder; but this list is competitive now. When I commented, it had corridor creepers, bonemares, shadowflame…

        Reply
        • Watson
          March 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm

          Skulking Geist is also there against Cubelock (Dark Pact) and also Kingsbane Rogue (Deadly Poison, Doomerang.) Jade Druid is also one of this decks worst matchups even if it doesn’t see that much play atm.

          Reply
  9. Spellsarefunsofun
    February 8, 2018 at 7:00 am

    don’t really wanna craft n’zoth when its rotating out soon, whats a good replacement?

    Reply
    • Martian
      February 9, 2018 at 10:48 am

      Welp, if you don’t play Wild then not crafting N’zoth is probably a good idea (he’s always going to be strong in Wild though). Cube-lock loses nothing at rotation, better to go that route without N’zoth.

      Reply
      • drren
        March 13, 2018 at 6:11 am

        i thought cube-lock uses n’zoth??

        Reply
  10. John
    February 6, 2018 at 5:29 pm

    What do you think about running only 1 possessed lackey? Because if u get 1 voidlord into your hand, than one of your Lackey’s is useless, not mentiong if u get 2 voidlords before possessed lackey, but it happend hardly ever.

    Reply
    • Martian
      February 7, 2018 at 11:34 am

      Yeah that can be annoying, but the consistency you get from running two is too valuable. Sure you often end up with a dead card, but you draw so much it doesn’t really matter.

      Reply
  11. Vincent
    January 30, 2018 at 3:51 pm
    Reply
  12. mislavi
    December 16, 2017 at 11:16 am

    nobody plays dudu so why put skull geist? and for priest his main list is dragon priest for now so dirty rat have no sense too

    Reply
    • Oliver
      December 28, 2017 at 7:19 am

      On 15 i ran into 80% Dudus…

      Reply
    • N0s0N
      January 23, 2018 at 2:28 am

      Must agree on dirty rat.. maybe I’m just unlucky.. keep losing because of it all the time pulling the worst out of their hands.. very rare it pulls out something in my favor..

      Reply
  13. Adrinalin
    December 15, 2017 at 3:37 pm

    http://www.hearthstonetopdecks.com/decks/rin-fatigue-warlock-kc/

    My current deck build for control lock. Very similar to this deck but with some significant variations. So far 18-3 on the ladder.

    Reply
  14. Joe
    December 14, 2017 at 9:49 pm

    How is this at all weak to Spell Hunter? Every single time I’ve played against it, I get wrecked by Voidlord.

    Reply
    • Martian
      December 14, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      Yeah I’d be surprised to lose that matchup. Maybe people are Tapping too long? Gotta play around Steady Shot/Kill Command.

      Reply
  15. YasinK
    December 14, 2017 at 4:48 am

    Thanks for this guide since I only play control warlock this season and stuck at rank 15-11. But I got a few questions:

    1. Voidlord (especially pulled from Lackey) into Carnivorous Cube combo? Yay or nay? Or too slow for this deck?
    2. Why Bonemare?

    Reply
    • YasinK
      December 14, 2017 at 8:12 am

      Voidlord > Cube > Dark Pact = 2 voidlord + 8 health

      Reply
    • Martian
      December 14, 2017 at 10:04 pm

      Bonemare synergizes with Corridor Creeper in a way that’s too strong to pass up. I think Carnivorous Cube is better in decks that have Doomguard and Skull. It might not be awful, but I doubt it would be optimal.

      Reply
  16. Arey0u
    December 14, 2017 at 3:25 am

    Why not 1 Dark Pact as a way to get Rin going against decks that probably run silence. Against Priest you can drop the combo turn 7 and start the Chain at turn 8 (hopefully). They don’t really pressure you with board presence and you are free to just cast 1 or even 2 Seals per turn. If you are fast enough and burn a key part of their combo it might be faster and more reliable then the rat.

    Reply
  17. Arthur
    December 13, 2017 at 9:54 pm

    Any substitution to Nzoth?

    Reply
    • Martian
      December 13, 2017 at 10:19 pm

      Bloodmage Thalnos or Tainted Zealot

      Reply
      • leiss
        December 14, 2017 at 6:41 am

        And what is better one’s? Also, second Twisting Nether isn’t that bad in this deck, maybe.

        Reply
        • Lenig Gerater
          March 13, 2018 at 8:20 pm

          The second Twisting Nether gives you consistent draw. However, being an 8 mana card, chances are you are going to draw it anyways. You really only need one to set up N’Zoth.

          Reply
  18. NPCFish
    December 13, 2017 at 8:09 pm

    I once played this deck against a dragon raza priest, and it turned out Rin backfired on me as my opponent stole it and played it before I did ;-(

    Reply
    • Martian
      December 13, 2017 at 8:23 pm

      Feelsbadman 🙁

      Reply
    • Elzein
      January 5, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Happened once for me too. I could feel my opponent laughing at my disappointment.

      Reply
  19. AgentMango
    December 13, 2017 at 6:45 pm

    This deck is very good. I don’t know how else to say it.

    Reply
  20. Martian
    December 13, 2017 at 5:26 pm

    Have you played with Rin against a control deck or against Rin with a control deck?

    Reply

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